Costuming Cinderella

What does it take to costume a show? Planning, research, organization, many, many hours, attention to detail, collaboration, budgeting and a good bit of art and craft.

Fall of 2015 students at Aspire Middle School for the Performing Arts took part in a production of “Cinderella: The World’s Favorite Fairy Tale” that presents the global story of Cinderella seen through the eyes of Chinese, Russian and Native American cultures. This production was costumed, for the most part, by Masque & Pettycote with some volunteer and student assistance in the last few days of production.

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This semester, the Aspire students will present Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, which tells this beloved story in song and dance. In addition to learning lines, choreography, and lyrics, some of the students are taking part in costuming the production.

Aspire’s curriculum concentrates on refining performance skills, but we saw this as a chance to give the students more of the theatrical process by having them experience the backstage work.

An old theatre saying says, “An actor without technicians is just a naked person emoting in the dark.” This emphasizes the importance of those who help create the rest of the world not inferred through words or music. Theatre technicians help flesh out the environments, moods, and characters through specifically chosen, colors, textures, and movement that give an audience as well as performers a more nuanced story.

R&H Cinderella research

The chosen time period for our Cinderella is Medieval, between 1400 and 1450 with long gowns, bell sleeves, elaborate headdresses, and men in tights.

First, the students familiarized themselves with historical research provided by the show’s costume designer, Mishka Navarre. Students then chose colors and styles that depicted the characters and created design sketches to establish general character looks.

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With sketches in hand, the casting complete, and all 60 cast members measured and sized, costume pulling could begin.

Masque & Pettycote has a fairly large collection of Medieval costumes to pull from. After  cast members were assigned pieces that relate to their size and character needs, the costume team would have a better idea idea of what was left to do: Who has pieces and who doesn’t? What pieces need to be found? What pieces need to be made?

We found that we were able to assign pieces to a majority of the cast, many of whom play townspeople, as well as attendees at the ball, but there whole show was not dressed yet.  A few people were missing critical pieces such as gowns and tunics, which, for the most part, will be made in Masque & Pettycote’s workshop.

In fact, each actor will have at least one gown or tunic, a tabard or surcote, a belt, a headpiece, and boys will need leggings. Special characters will need their specific pieces such step sister ball gowns, Cinderella’s glass slippers, horse heads for the horses, a chef’s hat, and the minister’s vestments. IMG_20160213_194730478

This becomes a mountain of clothes and organization to keep track of. With at least 4 costume items per person, we’re looking at over 300 pieces–each piece getting a name tag, which by itself can take hours.

Each item will be also be fitted, with about a 1/4 of the show created from scratch or shopped for.

The next step, will be finding appropriate fabrics and patterns to build the missing items. These will then be cut and stitched with the help of students and volunteer parents.IMG_20160220_131834801_HDR

Soon, we will arrange fittings where we find out how the selected pieces fit. Do they need adjustments? Do we need to come up with completely different pieces? What articles are missing and what needs to obtained?

Once the clothing is determined for each actor, the details get attended to: hats, veils, headpieces, belts etc.We are looking forward to a few days where elaborate headdresses will be assembled for the ladies and gentlemen.

Take a sneak peek at our process, look here for updates on the work to come and mark your calendars to go see our work in action April 13, 15 and 16 At North Thurston Performing Arts Center.

Remember to support your local community artists and go see some theatre. We don’t exist without you and we are here for you; to give you–and that naked actor in the dark–a well dressed, lit, constructed and designed world.

History in Buttons

I never dreamed buttons could be so fascinating!

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A backmark is written or pictorial information on the back of a button that can show the maker’s name and location, the quality of the material (i.e. “925” for sterling), and even patent dates. (Bead & Button Magazine)

We acquired bags of old brass military buttons when we opened our shop. Upon first glance at them, I said, “These are very old and very cool! I bet they are worth something.”

So, I recently started a little research. Each button contains its own story of where it was made and how it was used. Soon, I discovered lists of dates of back-marks, information on when some short-lived button and clothing makers were in business, and started recognizing patterns in the myriad of variations of buttons with eagles on them.

We’re finding that many people many people love buttons: from button collectors, special-interest collectors such as railroad and military enthusiasts, to re-enactors and costume historians and even those who just appreciate the history of great craftsmanship involved in a lovely utilitarian item.

To purchase, click the pictures or check out our Etsy store. Contact us at 360-819-4296 or email us if you have any questions.

 

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Ontario & Western Railroad, Backmark Jas. N. Petrie Chicago ILL, Approximately 1890s

Ontario and Western Railway in existence between 1889 and 1925 and Jas. N Petrie shows up in Chicago Records in 1889. These seem to be early in the railway’s short life. I have seen nothing like it searching other railway buttons of the era.

 

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Backmark P. Tait & Co. Limerick, 1850-1871

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Canadian Militia

 

Previous to 1871 the Canada Militia was a local organization which became country wide when the colony organized under Great Britain. P. Tait originally from Scotland, moved to Limerick Ireland and began a clothiers shop. Tait was a supplier of clothing and buttons for the Confederate army and other organizations needing uniforms. He went out of business in 1875. The button is in good condition for its age on the front but the shank is crushed.

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Civil War Confederate Army Artillery

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5/8”

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Unmarked Pewter-7/8”

 

Civil War Confederate buttons identified the wearer’s troop: C for Cavalry, I for Infantry, E for Engineer and A for Artillery. These buttons are unmarked but are solid pewter which was common for the Civil War Era and the lathe marks and drilled hole rather than a shank help verify its antiquity. These buttons are in excellent shape and are non-dug.

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Russian Imperial Army 1880-1914, 5/8” Uniform Cuff Buttons. Backmark Sig. Eisner Red Bank, N.J.

The double eagle and crown are a dead giveaway of the provenance of these buttons. The double eagle has long been a Tsarist symbol of Russia and the crown indicates that it is of the Imperial era, prior to WWI. The Sigmund Eisner Company specialized in uniforms in Red Bank, New Jersey, the company handled contracts for the United States government as well as several foreign governments.

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Backmark John F. Boylan N.Y., S.N.Y, 1864-1890

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New York State “Excelsior Eagle” 22.5 mm Officer Staff Button

 

This button shows the New York State Seal with the eagle over a shield with a rising sun and the stars and stripes. This was intended for New York units. This was a post-Civil War manufacture and buttons marked by Boylan date from between 1864 through the 1880’s. The shank is bent but usable.

 

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Backmark – Waterbury Scovill MF’G. Co. 1850-1865, $45.00

 

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New York State “Excelsior Eagle”, 22.5 Officer Staff Button

 

This button, also an Excelsior Eagle of New York State is slightly earlier, possibly towards the end of the Civil War and made by the Waterbury Scovill Manufacturers. Waterbury is still in existence today and its backmarks can be dated by the variations in the marks. This can be solidly dated between 1850-1865 because of the star and apostrophe on the mark.

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Madison St. Cable R.Y.C.O.

 

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Backmark – Henry Newman & Co. N.Y.

 

 

This button represents a bit of Seattle history. In 1891, a cable car connected the ferry terminal on Puget Sound to Madison Park on Lake Washington that ran the entire length of Madison Street. The cable car ran for nearly 50 year and was replaced by buses in 1940. This button is quite rare and I have found no other examples of it. References to Henry Newman Co date him to the late 1800’s

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US Naval Reserves, Backmark – B. Pasqale S. Fran., 1915-1940, 7/8” and 5’8”

Started in 1854 in San Francisco, B. PASQUALE COMPANY (Benoit Pasquale) was the only manufacturers of “Army and Navy Equipment and Uniforms” on the pacific coast. U.S. Naval reserves began in 1915 and still exists today. Chances are this is an early 20thcentury button as evidence of the B. Pasquale Company disappears from records after WWII. This button shows an earlier version of the backmark.

 

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GAR Grand Army of the Republic 7/8”, 1866-1900, No Backmark

 

The Grand Army of the Republic was a fraternal organization which began in 1866 for veteran Union soldiers of the Civil War. There is no backmark and the maker is unknown but we know they are made between 1866 and 1900 as those are the dates of existence of the organization. These buttons are in good condition with varying patina, all have shanks, some are soldered and some are loose but all are intact and usable.

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Northern Pacific Railroad Button Covers, No backmark, Approx. 1880-1930 5/8”

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7/8”

 

 

Two Unmarked 7/8″  and 28 5/8″ brass button covers Northern Pacific Railroad. Good condition. These seem to be unusual as we have been unable to find other examples of these specific button covers. Being that there is no back mark, we can only estimate a date and by comparing with other button covers and feel confident that they are likely from late 1800’s to early 20th century. Northern Pacific Railroad was in existence from the 1880’s until the 1970’s.

 

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Replica Confederate States of America, Standard issue buttons, Backmark Waterbury Co’s Inc. Conn. Post 1965 7/8”

 

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The Waterbury Button company has been in business since the early 1800’s and has been producing military buttons all through its lifetime. These buttons were manufactured post 1965 for Civil War re-enactors and film purposes.

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Cumner & Jones Co. Boston 1890-1950 Corps of Engineers Officer Black Button

 

Officers black buttons with an eagle holding in his beak a scroll with the word ‘Essayons,’a bastion with embrasures in the distance, surrounded by water, and rising sun. “ Essayons” means “Let’s Try” in French. This style button is seen as far back as the Revolutionary war but these are made by Cumner & Jones of Boston so they are either WWI or WW2 vintage.

Workshops & Classes and a little 1930’s Costume History

Masque & Pettycote is pleased to announce a that we are offering Classes and Workshops.  Check out the class descriptions below.  Please register at your earliest convenience to reserve a spot as spaces are limited. If a class has not yet been scheduled and you are interested in it, please let us know and we can start arranging dates.

Mending Pile Monday Night
Got a pile of clothes that need a tweak here, a hem there? A hole? A broken Zipper? Do you hate to get rid of it but don’t know what to do with it? Come use our machinery, tools, shop space and know-how to repair that zipper, put in that hem, adjust that fit and learn new skills to help keep that pile from reappearing.
Regularly First Monday of the month, $20 includes instruction, shop and thread fee. Some materials such as zippers, fabric and buttons are an additional cost/bring your own. Maximum 6 people. Instructors Mishka Navarre/ Ricky German.
Dates: 7:00– 9:00 p.m. July 6, August 3, September 7

Drawing the Figure
Figure drawing is one of the most technical of art skills because it relies on the artists’ ability to depict form, volume and proportion while portraying something which is as familiar to us as the back of our hands.
Learn some basics of figure and face construction which is a vital skill for Costumers, Fashion Designers and Artists in general.
2 hours a week for a 3 week series.
Includes Instructor and Model fee. May contain nude figure drawingFSC_4996 sessions.
Needed Materials: newsprint pad/drawing paper, stick charcoal, drawing pencils.
Instructors, Mishka Navarre/Ricky German. Cost $55.00
Dates: July 8, 15, 22 7:00 pm– 9:00 pm

The Elements of Design
Design in all of its forms from clothing to architecture utilizes a basic “toolbox” of elements including line, shape, color, texture and focus. How do designers and artists of all types use these tools to create functional, beautiful and evocative pieces? Come discover how the elements of design are all around you and how you can use them as you create. 2 hours a week for 2 weeks.
Instructor- Mishka Navarre. Cost $38.00
Sunday July 19 and 26 2:00-4:00 pmset1_small

Build a Skirt Workshop
Learn some basic sewing skills and make a simple skirt with a waistband and zipper. By making a skirt you will learn basic skills such as Basic pattern layout and cutting, Sewing machine and Serger operation, simple seams, gathering, hemming, hand application of closures and how to do a machine or hand hem. Use your own fabric and zipper $50, use our fabric and zippers $65 (limited selections). Three 2 hour sessions. Needed Materials: 2 yards fabric, coordinating thread, one 8” zipper.
Maximum 6 students.
Instructors: Ricky German/ Mishka Navarre
Dates: Tuesdays July 21, 28 August 4 7:00– 9:00 p.m.

Zombie Workshop
You aspire to be one of the walking dead but you don’t have much beyond a limp armed stagger and a moan to show for it. In this 3 hour workshop decide upon your manner of death, learn some blood and gore makeup skills, get hints on creating that perfect ragged wardrobe. $45 includes demonstration makeup and instructor. Individual makeup may be purchased through us depending upon your undead needs. Costumes are not included.
Instructors Ricky German/ Mishka Navarre
Dates: Saturday September 12
11:00 am– 1:00 pm

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Costume History Series
Part of a Costumer’s job is to be able to research and portray historical periods. Learn about the styles, lifestyles and fashion
oddities of each time period. Each series is 3 weeks with three 2 hour sessions.
1- Ancient cultures to Byzantium
2- Early Medieval to Renaissance
3- Elizabethan to 1789
4- French Revolution through the reign of Victoria
5- Edwardian and the 20th century through 1950
Cost: $50.00 per 3 week series. Purchase all 5 classes in the series for $175 (a $75 savings). We advise that the courses be taken in order as new information will build upon prior information, but it is not necessary to have studied earlier periods to learn something new and interesting about each period.
Instructor: Mishka Navarre Dates– To be Announced

Create a Costume Design Drawing
One of the major tools of the Costume Design and Fashion industries is the ability to depict the clothed body and how to render different types of fabrics on the body form. Work with clothed models and color medium to create your own costume design plate.Kate Act 1
Needed Materials: Bristol board tablet, Inexpensive drawing paper tablet, watercolor and brushes or colored pencils.
2 hours a week for a 3 week series. Includes instructor and Model fees. Cost $55.00. Suggested prior class “Drawing the Figure”
Dates -To Be Announced

Tassels, Tear-Away and Sequins Workshop
Hey Burlesque Beauties!!! Come up your game and learn some skills to make your awesome clothing finds work for your act! Learn breakaway rigging and techniques, make your own pasties and explore the bling bling bling!!!! Come with your ideas and clothing pieces. Fabrics and Materials not included. 3 two hour sessions.
Week 1 Concept, Refine and fit
burlesque cropWeek 2 Fit alterations, Fabrication and rigging
Week 3 Finish work
Materials not included. Cost $50
Instructors Ricky German/ Mishka Navarre
Dates– To Be Announced

Drag Workshop
Girlfriends! Whether you are a pro, aspiring Queen or like to dress for fun or lifestyle come have some rainbow sparkle high heel fun! 9 hour 4 week series:
Week 1- (2 hours) Clothing Makes the Lady: discuss and find ideas for your girlish figure: gaffs, boobs, foundation garments and explore dressing the part. Clothing, wigs and underthings not included in class costs. Seek out your own style or rent our stock for a reduced price.
Week 2- (2 hours) Movement: learn the mysteries of how to walk in high heels and to sit like a lady- bring your own skirt and heels or use ours to get you outfitted for a practice session.
Week 3- (2 hours) Makeup: bring your makeup kit or purchase from our stock and explore highlight and shadow, eyebrows and cheekbones, glitter and lip liner.
Week 4- (3 hours) Put it all together and “Lip Sync for your Life!” Use your new skills and fabulous looks to try out a new number or just strut your stuff in a supportive atmosphere. Invite your crew to see your new look and get critiques from professional Queens and performers. 1 adult beverage for those over 21 included and soft drinks/ coffees for minors. 6 student limit. Instructor Ricky German
Dates: To Be Announced

Instructors- Do you have a class you are able to instruct and just need a space to do it? Talk to us about Scheduling and Finances.
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ALSO! if you are interested in having a custom costume made for Halloween…Talk to us now! We will be taking orders for custom work until July 31 so that we know we will have enough time to complete all custom work before the Holiday rush. Make an appointment or drop in and chat with us about your costume desires.

 

Explore a Little 1930’s Fashion

The Atelier is preparing for a 1930’s theme Wedding for some clients and we are pulling some looks together for their guests. If you are putting a 30’s ensemble together or are thinking about what kind of anHenryMarshPhyllisHainesWedding1933 outfit we can put you in, here is a little primer of fashion from the early to mid 1930’s

Women’s Wear

With the new decade, women’s clothing evolved away from the boyish, boxy looks of the 1920’s to looks which emphasized womanly curves.

Waistlines returned to the natural waist. Shoulders lettylynton-1930s-evening-dress-by-adrianwere emphasized with puffed, padded  or butterfly sleeves, which helped create an illusion of a smaller waist. Skirt lengths were generally mid calf or longer. Skirt Fullness was minimal and many skirts clung to the hips and flared below the knee.1933-women-dresses-ad-02

Bias Cut gowns and dresses were introduced by designer Mme. Vionnet and became all the rage as street dressing imitated the slinky silver screen imagesWM2SZBM2sirens. Bias is fabric turned on a 45 degree angle to the grain which gives the fabric more stretch and allows it to glide over the body curves.

Suits and Skirt Jacket and Blouse combos were common for daywear.  Jackets followed the body closely and were often hip length with a flared skirt or peplum. Bolero Jackets were popular for both dressy and casual events.3906653_f260

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Shoes had a boxy tapered heel. Pumps, peep7875025_thumbnail toe and sandals were popular for day and evening and oxfords were a daywear staple.

Accessories finished off the outfit. Stockings, gloves (short for day, long for evening) and hats were de rigeur.  Floppy picture hats, cloches and small brimmed hats and caps matched gloves, bags and often shoes. 50a9ff22f699391470056ddbcec5f534

Hair While still predominantly short was worn longer and softer than the blunt bobs of the 20’s.   Makeup concentrated on glamor with red or wine colored lips in a bee-stung or cupid’s bow shape with thin eyebrows and mascara or false eyelashes. Blush was concentrated on the apple of the cheek and was usually in the pink range.Fan mag_PhotoPlay & Silverscreen,1933-41

Menswear

Gentlemen generally wore variations of the three piece suit. Jackets were most often 3 button, fairly broad in the shoulder and nipped in at the waist and flared again at the hip creating9d363c06fa221d1aa98b20a599d577d3 an hourglass shape. Single and double breasted jackets were both worn. Lapels were very wide and generally peaked.  Pants were generally quite full, pleated, worn at the waist 1930s mens suitsand for the conservative tapered at the ankle while the more fashion forward youth would wear them wider at the ankle. Pants were usually cuffed and creased. The zipper fly made its appearance in the 30’s.

Accessories gave the gentleman opportunities for personal style. Hats were worn at all times outdoors. Usual styles were the fedora, the narrower brimmed trilby, bowlers and newsboy caps.1930s-dobs-fedroa-hat-221x300 Straw fedoras and boaters were options for warmer weather. 1930s-hat-ad-boater-fedora-Copy-339x500Pocket squares, dress scarves, vests, suspenders, bow and straight ties, tie pins and gloves were worn. Sweaters and sweater vests were beginning to be common day wear most often seen with “v” necks and in an argyle or fair-isle pattern. imagesVNW023FO

Shoes had a fairly pointed toe and the oxford or brogan in solid black or brown or two tone were most common.1930S-mens-fashion3

Hairstyles were generally short on back and sides with a little length on top. article-new-ehow-images-a07-s6-6n-mens-evening-wear-1930s-800x800Sideburns were short and neat. Beards were unacceptable but small neat moustaches were occasionally sported by snappy gents.

Men’s Formal Wear had more or less standardized to the black tuxedo jacket with peaked lapels. White dinner jackets began to give men lighter summer options. The turndown collar formal shirt and the cummerbundresized-1936-jan-mens-formal-dress-article-illus were regular evening options. “Black tie” became the less formal evening option indexworn with the short tux coat while “white tie” was reserved for the more formal tail coat. Grey Morning coats and striped trousers reflected a slightly earlier period and were staples of daytime formal events.c4b14fdca06d8754bc80dad84ec77873

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a few video links to clips from the early 1930’s